Some of us hate confrontation.
Some of us hate conflict.
Here’s what I’ve learned recently.
To be a follower of Jesus means that most people aren’t going to agree with me or like me.
You may be thinking, well duh Nate, we know this.
Well, I have to remind myself sometimes of that truth.
Recently, I was reading in the Gospel of Luke, and I came across the following verse. It’s a verse I honestly hadn’t noticed before.
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. – Luke 6:26
Wow. That’s pretty intense. Jesus is proclaiming that if everyone likes you as a follower of Jesus, you’re probably not standing solidly on the truth. Instead, you are most likely flattering others and telling them what they want to hear. That was the method of the false prophet.
Jesus is making it clear that not everyone around us is going to speak well of us. As a matter of fact, we can expect the opposite when we stand on what Scripture says is true.
That doesn’t jive well with my desire to be fully liked by all people.
Now, I am not an advocate for being Christian jerks. There is a balance of truth and love. Many people that claim Christ are some of the rudest, meanest, and honestly most vile people when it comes to communicating that which the Bible says is true.
For some of us who claim Christ however, our desire to be well loved leads us to avoid the truth. We tiptoe around the topics of the day, living our lives as sheepish, embarrassed Christians. I think many members of our churches live this way.
Here’s what I mean by this:
Some of us are embarrassed by the Bible’s view on sexuality.
So we avoid talking about it. The Bible calls homosexuality sin, but it also calls premarital sex, masturbation, pornography, transgenderism, divorce (for a reason other than marital unfaithfulness), and a litany of other sexual or marital practices to be sin. In a world of individualism, some of us back down off of what the Bible says to be true, not wanting to infringe upon people’s preferences or personal lives. Yet to be a follower of Jesus is to submit one’s sexuality to Jesus.
Some of us are embarrassed by the claim of Christ that all of a person’s life, all of their heart and soul and mind and strength, should be submitted to the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
But, we want people to come to our churches. So we preach messages that tickle the ears, make people feel good about themselves, and keep the status quo. Instead of daily submission to a life of discomfort via allegiance to Jesus, we preach for our people to chase the desires of their hearts, that they can achieve all of their dreams and goals with Jesus’ magic pixie dust of blessings raining down upon their lives. Christianity becomes about feeling good.
Oh, and those times where Jesus calls us to love Him more than we’d love our own family, that was hyperbole and exaggeratory on Jesus’ part. Our kids should be number #1 in our lives. Don’t teach them covenant commitment, make it about their fun and comfort.
Some of us are embarrassed by the call to holiness that is abundantly clear in Scripture and is a crucial part of what it means to follow Jesus.
So we make life about authenticity and transparency. This leads to the Game of Thrones watching, Cards against Humanity playing, beer drinking, cussing, partying, but attending church on Sunday version of Christianity. Are any of the above the unforgivable sin? By no means. But the whole “in the world but not of it” mantra of this subset of Christians shows the world around it that there’s really nothing different about them. They partake in the same things, act the same way. This truly is an abuse of grace.
Some of us are embarrassed by the practices and traditions that are present in our churches.
We are afraid to bring people to our church, because what will they think when we belt out all four verses of “Be Thou My Vision”? What will they think when we have the Uber-awkward “greet people around you time” of the service? What will they think when we talk about tithing, or when we have a Frightless Family Fun Night on Halloween? None of this is hip and relevant. None of this is cool and popular.
Some of us are embarrassed by the character of God, namely His anger and wrath towards the unrighteous.
So we make it our mission to be God’s PR rep. We start by not studying and definitely not speaking about the Old Testament, because that’s not about the God of love. We then make sure to downplay the fact that the Sermon on the Mount ups the ante for the follower of Jesus. We don’t talk about hell. Some even come to the conclusion that hell isn’t real. When we do this though, we are communicating that Christ died for no reason.
Do any of these hit close to home for you?
Some of them hit home for me.
We have all of a sudden become people who are apologizing for what we believe! We’ve become people who are embarrassed to be associated with Jesus.
We all fall into it.
I’m a pastor and I fall into it.
When I get my haircut in Wichita Falls, I inevitably get asked what it is I do for a living. I answer truthfully, yet there are times when I start to feel embarrassed. My heart doesn’t want the discomfort of being known for all of the above things I talked about in this blog. My heart is also wicked, not to be trusted.
To be a follower of Jesus is to be weird, to be not liked at times.
No, we mustn’t be rude and arrogant.
Yes, we must be willing to stand for truth, truth spoken in love.
Stop apologizing for being a Christian.
Start embracing the discomfort.
In His Name,